check vsc system

Check VSC System Light – What does it mean? – Toyota & Lexus

In Brakes by Magnus Sellén15 Comments

The Vehicle Stability Control (VSC) is a system in a lot of Toyota & Lexus cars that help the car from sliding during harsh climatic conditions.

The moment the VSC system realizes that the car is losing traction, it will automatically apply to brake on all of the car’s wheels and keep the car from further skids.

Engine power is also reduced, and this gives the driver better control of the vehicle. Through the system, the driver can manage understeering, emergency cornering, and skidding. The VSC has been responsible for the reduction of road accidents during rainy, foggy and snowy weather conditions.

It is therefore vital to check the VSC system on your Toyota or Lexus whenever it starts to malfunction.

What causes the check VSC system light to go on?

When the VSC light shows up, it means that there is an issue in your VSC or ABS system and your ABS/VSC system will not function properly.

The VSC works together with the ABS. If you are driving under blizzard conditions, the snow can interfere with the ABS sensors, prompting the check VSC system light to turn on. You may also get a “C1201” engine error code.

The first thing you need to do is let the snow thaw. You can then reset the error code. This clears the light most of the time, but if it does not work, you may need to see a mechanic or use an OBD2 scanner for further checks on your ABS.

How does the VSC system work?

sliding car

The VSC is the car’s internal traction control system. Whenever you drive through slippery roads and lose traction, the system roars to life giving you better steering ability. Each of the wheels of the car will have electronic sensors that communicate with the car’s Powertrain Control Module (PCM).

When the driver experiences problems in steering control, the VSC will automatically reduce engine speed while giving braking power to the wheels that need it the most. The wheel sensors relay information about the horizontal and vertical motion of the wheels. Whenever you notice the check VSC system light coming on, you could be having problems with your sensors, or the steering rack.

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Which models are affected?

You can find the VSC system in a lot of Asian cars.  Most of them are fitted in Toyota and you can also find them in Lexus Models. Here are some affected models:

  • Toyota Camry
  • Toyota Avensis
  • Toyota Verso
  • Toyota Sienna
  • Lexus RX400H
  • Lexus is250
  • Lexus is220d

Check Engine Light/ABS Light

flashing check engine light

There are moments that the VSC light will be accompanied by the ABS light or check engine light. The ABS works closely with the VSC. ABS stands for anti-lock brake sensor. It is used to measure the rotational speed of the tires and relays this information to the car’s Engine Control Module (ECM). Wheels often do not rotate at the same speed due to their contact on the ground. Whenever the ECM notices that there is some skidding, it locks up some of the wheels, and this prevents the car from skidding.

The ABS mechanism often consists of a coil housing a magnet and a toothed ring. A signal is produced by the magnetic field, and it is later transformed into a digital signal. With the inclusion of VSC, drivers have better control of their cars.

ASR System

Other advanced electronics that are used in conjunction with the VSC include the Acceleration Slip Regulation (ASR). This integrates some parts of the ABS and the car’s electronic accelerator. If you are driving along a slippery road and one of the tires loses traction, the ASR will send communications to the engine management system and power is reduced to the slipping wheel. The Dynamic Stability Control (DSC) is activated whenever you are driving through gravel and sandy roads. It allows one or more wheels to slip and increases traction to some wheels.

ESC System

The Electronic Stability Control (ESC) is a safety mechanism for cars that was developed in 1995 to aid vehicles in traction control. It works with the ABS and VSC. Toyota introduced the system in the 90s. VSC systems work on a variety of surfaces from frozen lakes to tarmacked roads. Humans are unable to react fast when the car starts to skid. By the time you engage the brakes – which may not be working – you may find yourself face to face with an oncoming car.

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But with a VSC system, it takes control even before the driver realizes that he is losing control. It will estimate the direction and length of the skid and give braking power to the wheels that need it the most. The car will then be brought back to the driver’s command.

Some people have criticized ESC systems for creating overconfident and careless drivers, but it has been responsible for the reduction of many accidents – especially during snowy climatic conditions. The VSC system works within the direction of the driver.

Reducing Accidents

According to a study conducted by the US National and Safety Administration in 2004, it was estimated that the use of ESC reduced accidents by up to 35 percent. When it comes to SUVs, those with ESC systems managed to avoid road accidents by 67 percent. Later, an organization called the US Insurance Institute for Highway Safety concluded that over 10,000 fatal crashes in 2006 would be avoided if the cars had ESC systems.

Traction is important if you are driving in snowy and rainy seasons. The chances of oversteering are high and with the probability of fog, you could find yourself hitting an oncoming car or obstacle. VSC sensors are critical for the performance of the system and the check VSC system light the moment it goes on.

How to reset the Check VSC system light?

If you have a scan gauge then resetting the VSC light should not be difficult. However, you can first switch on the engine to ACC and press the odometer, holding  until it reads the actual mileage. Switch off the engine completely and turn it on again but this time pressing the odometer button. This should clear the VSC light.

If this does not work, you could be having problems with the wheel sensors that relay information to the onboard computer. The sensors get worn out with time.

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To make the troubleshooting a lot easier, you should read the trouble codes from your car with an OBD2 scanner.


The VSC system in many Toyota vehicles is critical for traction control whenever the car starts skidding. The system works in conjunction with the ABS. Since the VSC uses sensors, it can start to malfunction as the sensors get old and worn out. You can first try to reset the VSC light if it is constantly on and if this does not work, consult a mechanic for sensor replacement.

15 thoughts on “ Check VSC System Light – What does it mean? – Toyota & Lexus ”

    1. I have a 2007 Lexus LS460 and the VSC light just appeared with the check engine light and a hazard light. Is it safe to continue to drive the vehicle and will the vehicle break down if I don’t make it to the dealer soon?

  1. Hi, I bough a Toyota Verso (2013) recently and after several days CHECK VSC SYSTEM turned on together with ABS. In service they replaced me EGR VALVE (424820110E), but after 250 miles driving VSC SYSTEM and ABS again turned on. In service they replaced the valve again, but the problem again appeared after 80 miles. My friend did a scanning clearing the signal, but after 25 miles again the lights turned on. What could be the problem? Any idea? Any advice?
    Many thanks,

  2. i have 2006 Toyota highlander and it has started giving me alarm on ….check your VSC system
    what do i do

    1. I’ve Toyota corolla verso 2010

      Engine light come on

      Check vsc system on
      I removed battery cable light turned off but next day light comes on again

  3. Hi There,

    I have a 2006 Lexus IS 250 SE-L Auto.

    I have had a new stainless steel exhaust fitted and the wheels refurbished.

    I was travelling back from the garage in Slough, where i had the work done, to Farnham.

    I was almost home when the VSC light, skidding car light & engine light came on.

    I carefully drove back but the engine didn’t go into limp mode or anything, in fact, the engine sounded fine!

    Have i caused somthing to fail?

    Surely it would have happened straight away when i left the garage, not when i was nearly home!

    Any info would be greatly appreciated, thank you in adavance.

    With Regards,

    Rob Adam.

    1. Hi Robert. I have the same issue with the same car. Did you find any solutions?
      It comes sometimes, not everytime. When I hit the brakes sometimes it pop ups CHECK VSC, But the engine sound great like you said.
      Please reply

      Thank you // Ardalan

  4. I have lexus 430 gs 2001 after braking and turning left slowly get loud clicking sound from abs unit turned vsc off and there is no clicking turn it on clicking again really loud please help could it be wheel sensor

  5. I’ve Toyota corolla verso 2010
    The starter does not start well
    The car reflects check vsc system on
    What must I do?

  6. I have highlander 2007 and the VSC light and traction is on. Please must I get a new sensors. If I don’t change it any side effect.

  7. VSC Light, Check Engine glowing 2004 Lexus RX330; engine won’t start (key at ACC position): My solution was to replace the car battery which had suddenly died. The ABS and Brake lights also lit up when I tried to crank it, but got not even a click.
    The store checked and confirmed I needed a replacement battery which fixed this problem. When I installed the new one the horn blasted, but it stopped after I disconnected the negative cable and retried the connection.

  8. I changed front brakes on my Lexus 2006 400h and now my vsc light is on and my abs light is on and some other lights are on

  9. I have Lexus 330 2007 model the vsc light is showing and check engine please what do I do …

  10. Hi!

    I have a problem with my lexus is 250 2006. Check VSC pops up sometimes, not everytime.. I have run a trebleshoot to the car and the code says : C1 249. Open Circuit In Stop Light Switch Circuit.
    I have open and took out the tail lights and checked the wires and it dont seems to cause anything..
    But it will come sometimes.. not everytime.. But it comes sometimes when Im braking.
    Please if you find some solutions or info, please reply me. Thank you

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